This is part two of the mini series entitled “Taking Flight”. Click here for part one.
My skin is so dry I almost feel I could peel it off in flakes. I start to wonder if maybe I should have asked the Hannibal Lecter look-alike if he did, indeed, have a bottle of lotion in his carry on.
Misty meets me outside of baggage claim in a large Ford Expedition. I scramble to put my bags in the back seat, struggling to gather even an ounce of energy left over from my hours of airplane travel. Wake up, I think to myself, it’s not even 5:00 pm. I’m now experiencing the lag of the two-hour time difference.
I’ll save you the details and fast forward through dropping my bags off at the hotel (which is also a casino) and grabbing some much needed Starbucks (I’m addicted, remember?).
The airport where the air races will take place isn’t very far from our hotel, so I don’t see much of the Nevada landscape, although everything looks pretty much the same, so there’s really nothing to see besides large mountain formations, void of any trees. One thing I notice immediately is the random art and design elements that pop up all over the city. I know it’s nerd-ish, but the planning department employee knowledge kicks in and I think, I wonder how much the City spent on this? I make a mental note to tell my boss about these things when I get back. I also notice that people in Nevada are extremely patriotic. There are American flags flying in every direction I glance. I’m used to confederate flags gracing my view from the bed of every pre-1999 Ford truck I encounter, so an American flag is quite a treat.
I’m like Charlie walking in to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory when I see the jets. I’ve seen them at the hangar before, but it’s nothing compared to seeing them lined up and in motion on the runway. There are pilots hanging around, mechanics peckering with tools and parts here and there, and several race volunteers scurrying about. It has started to get dark (and cold), but I don’t pay much attention to that once I see Chris in front of 777.
It’s been a week since I’ve seen him, which in retrospect doesn’t seem like that long to be away from someone, but I can attest to the fact that absence really does make the heart grow fonder. All I really want to do is run up and kiss him, but runway rules say I can’t without an armband. Misty tells me to go ahead, so I do (open toed shoes and all) and I’m finally in the arms of the man I love and take for granted way too often. It’s at this moment that I feel the pain and regret of all the wrong I have ever done to him.
Oh, hey, it’s my hormones again.
Chris tells me about the work he does, but I normally only pay attention to about half of it. He gets really detailed talking about bolts and nuts and screws and tools and pieces of metal and blah blah blah, so the ADD in me kicks in and I wander off. It doesn’t mean I don’t care, but I’m a super type A personality and I can only listen to a story or explanation so long before I lose interest. He’s not type A, and sometimes we don’t mix. But overall, we mesh. He’s the perfect guy, but I’ve never actually stopped to really appreciate how much he does for me. Seven years of marriage will do that to you, I guess.
Standing at the airport, listening to the loud hum of jets and golf carts whizzing by, I just stand and stare at Chris. He looks happy, and I mean really, really happy in that moment as he’s working with Shane to do whatever it is they do to the jets (like I said, he’s told me, but…). It doesn’t take long for me to realize that, in the formula of happiness, there is something that really stands out as a major factor: your job.
Isn’t that the point Disney tries to make at the beginning of The Incredibles when Mr. Incredible himself is pumping away at a keyboard at a job he hates? He isn’t fulfilled by the work he is doing, the company he is working for, or the boss he is reporting to. He feels like he was destined for more and his current situation just isn’t supplying that. I don’t care how many inspirational quotes and messages you find on Pinterest telling you otherwise- your job is a major factor in the pursuit of happiness. Period.
For the past several weeks (and months, really), I’ve been dwelling the feeling of being “stuck”. The longing for freedom really isn’t something that can be explained, nor does it need to be explained. The truth is, I don’t have to answer to anyone else for my own happiness. If I’m being blunt, there are two people whose happiness I am concerned with: my husband and my daughter. All others take a back seat, mostly because I’ve placed the most important people’s happiness aside for a very long time, and their moment to shine is now. Oh, and let’s not forget about myself because I deserve to be happy, too.
Standing in the cool, crisp, dry air in Nevada, I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. It was a full breath, unlike any I had taken in Alabama, where I could feel the stress, anxiety, worry, and sadness leave my body in one fell swoop. It was a feeling like home, only I knew it wasn’t that. No, it was much more than that. It was clarity. It was vision. It was planning, and hope, and comfort, and anticipation, and excitement…and happiness.
In that moment, I realized I would never start checking items off my bucket list by sitting around and sulking over things that I could change. Get your ass up and do something about it, my mind screamed.
It blows my mind that I had to travel 2,328 miles to get a feeling of clarity. I’m not sure if I can contribute this to the higher altitude, the dry air, or the lack of Southern accents surrounding me, but I was glad for the fleeting moment in which I was somehow able to place the steps of my goals exactly where they should be.
I decided step one would be to seize the damn day, as in turn a trial into a triumph and be happy in my own skin. Whatever way you want to interpret it, I decided to stop being upset over what I didn’t have, and to enjoy the things I did have. I’ll get to the “wants” soon enough, right?
After dinner and a margarita, Chris and I tried our hand at 3 card poker. Sitting around the table with him beside me playing his hands, I laughed (almost uncontrollably) each time he’d tell the dealer, “Okay, here comes my flush.” I was betting twice what he was, so each time I won he’d announce to the entire table, “Alright, baby, good job!” It seemed as though the people around the table became our instant friends, as we found ourselves rooting for each other and celebrating the winnings. A few hours later, we walked away from the table with something more than money. We walked away with a renewed friendship, something I thought we had lost throughout our marriage complete with its ups and downs.
Despite all of the alcohol I had consumed throughout the night, I went to bed feeling unusually light and airy. The weight I had been carrying around for so long had disappeared. I imagined hearing a thud, like a gigantic boulder falling off my back and hitting the ground behind me.
Step one: complete.
Step two: Make a plan.
To be continued…